Morocco - Elegant Grand Tour

CASABLANCA, RABAT, FES, MARRAKESH, AND THE SAHARA DESERT DUNES
An exotic oriental world with a richness of beauty, colours, and traditions

AN INVITATION TO MOROCCO

Morocco is an amazing country that shows its beauty and abundance to visitors only when they travel through its diverse landscapes. From its fertile plains with the biggest cities, through the majestic Atlas mountains and toward the spectacular Sahara sandy dunes, Morocco grows deep into oneʼs heart more every day that they spend there.

 

Morocco is one of the most picturesque countries in the world. The landscape, the people, and the costumes of the locals show a plethora of colour. The country offers an inspiring blend of the Orient, the Arab world, Europe, and Indigenous Berbers. The abundance of the past and sumptuous sultansʼ lifestyles gave rise to the hospitality and refined luxury they hold for visitors who wish to experience the story of One Thousand and One Nights live. Become a precious guest to Morocco on our beautiful Elegant Grand Tour – welcome to the country where the majestic past meets the colourful present!

 

If you feel our passion for Morocco, and you wonder about the program we have prepared, feel free to contact us:

 

- by calling (we use Skype or IMO, but with prior arrangement only),
- or sending any other request or question via our inquiry form

 

We will be happy to hear from you, present our program to you in a live call, reply to your questions, send you the brochure of our Moroccan Elegant Grand Tour, and maybe also proudly take you on a tour to this magnificentl North African treasury of cultures, colours, and opulence.

Basic  information on a tour

TOUR DIRECTOR AND GUIDES
Alja, (about her expertise) accompanied by local tour guides, experts, and artists
GROUP SIZE
10 to 18 guests
ACCOMODATIONS
Luxury Riads and 4- or 5-star hotels, and in a luxury Desert camp in Sahara, all on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Riads have an en suite bathroom and are fully air conditioned. 
Read more about Riads
TRANSPORTATION
a fully air conditioned luxury coach, a camel for each guest for conquering the sandy dunes in the Sahara desert, possible inbound (or private jet) flights
DINING
in elegant and sophisticated restaurants with delicious Moroccan cuisine
LEVEL OF FITNESS
moderate (some walking on uneven pavements in the old towns and on the sandy dunes, also Riads have narrow stairs)
BEST TIMES TO VISIT
The second half of September through May (we avoid January and February when nights
in the Sahara are too cold), we avoid summer months (when itʼs too hot). Read more.
We discuss more about the climate and temperatures – here.
ARRIVAL
Casablanca, Mohamed V. International Airport (or else, depending on the group arrangements)
AND DEPARTURE
Marrakesh, Menara international Airport
POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS AND VARIATIONS
- CHEFCHAUEN >
- ESSAOUIRA >
VISA REQUIREMENTS
guests should check for the travel documents they need and obtain them from local authorities in the country of their residence or else (as demanded by the Moroccan embassy). In the case that they should have a visa for travel in Morocco, they should arrange it before the entry into Morocco.
MEDICAL INSURANCE
must be obtrained by the guests before arriving to Morocco.
LAND ONLY
Elegant Cultural Tours organises group programmes on the basis of Land Only
(no international flights).

THE TOUR

We start the Grand Tour in Casablanca, the city of a beautiful name and a home to the biggest (and most splendid) mosque in Morocco – Hassan II Mosque, then continue to the modern French-style Moroccan capital, Rabat, and on to a traditional and the oldest of Moroccan cities, Fes. Crossing the Atlas mountains to the Sahara desert dunes takes us to the unforgettable nights under the starry skies, and to an experience of sitting for a unique photo souvenir. We continue toward the mountainʼs valley Dades and on to the film studiosʼ city, Ouarzazate. Before crossing the mountains again, we stop at the world famous movie village, Ksar Ait Ben Haddou.

We save the best for the last, so the last part of our Tour brings us to the designersʼ heaven and the most fascinating city in the country, Marrakesh, where we indulge in beauty and exclusivity. This is where we conclude our Elegant Grand Tour and we do it in great style . . .

This is a rough description of the program. Our tours are prepared with love for beautiful details, small suprises, and elegance. The creative, inspiring, and insightful highlights of the tour are listed below . . . should you wish to receive the full program and our brochure of Grand Tour Morocco, please send us your inquiry.

Possible extensions and variations

CHEFCHAUEN

THE UNIQUE BLUE CITY

Adding three days to the Elegant Grand Tour enables us to visit the blue city of the North. Nestled in the Rif Mountains, the town of Chefchauen is world famous for its blue washed appearance. The facades of the old Medina (old town), and its tiny narrow streets are all blue. The colourful background makes for a charming photograph (and so do many fluffy iconic cats that reside in the city). Time spent in Chefchauen is always beautiful and somehow magical.

ESSAOUIRA

A TOWN AS PRETTY AS SMALL PICTURE

Adding three days to the Elegant Grand Tour gives us time to visit this authentic port city on the Atlantic coast. There is no better place in Morocco to relax, breathe in the fresh Atlantic air and soak in the warm sun on the terrace of a beautiful Riad. Essaouirra is well-known for being a bustling fishermanʼs port (with blue washed boats and colonies of seagulls), imposing ramparts (featured in many movies), blue and white houses, workshops of woodcarvers, and the tradition of making the precious argane oil. It is also home to a festival of black African, Gnawa music, and the legendary visiting place of famous musicians such as Jimmy Hendrix, Cat Stavens, and Frank Zappa . . . unless that is nothing but a myth?

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR

DISCOVERING AND NEW INSIGHTS

  •  A Moroccan afternoon “Ladies time together” and “Gentlemenʼs time out”
  •  Shopping the Marrakesh souks (markets) with our own private Stylist and/or Interior Designer

ELEGANCE AND BEAUTY

  • Oriental and designers accomodations: staying in luxury riads and 4- or 5-star hotels and in a luxury desert camp in Sahara
  • Private concert in the courtyard of a palace
  • Sunset horse-carriage ride in Marrakesh
  • Yves Saint Laurent experience and Majorelle garden

CREATIVITY

Why we add creative hands-on workshops? Please, read here

  • A photoshooting in the Sahara desert dunes with a professional photographer in precious moroccan costumes and on (or off) a camel (a true atmosphere of the desert)
  • A calligraphy lession for writing oneʼs (the guests) name in Arabic
A NOTICE ABOUT OUR TRAVEL We travel elegantly and luxurious, but we do not intend to travel isolated from the country and the culture we visit. We aim at keeping our travel real. We do not avoid the hosting cultures, their traditions, and customs, but rather explain and encounter them, and accept them for what they are. If the country's standards are lower than those at home, we understand it and try to appreciate the efforts local people put into trying to meet our expectations.

ACCOMODATIONS

A RIAD is a traditional Moroccan house where everything revolves around the inner courtyard that has a main fountain filled with flower petals (the wealthiest riads even have a swimming pool). A riad doesnʼt have as many rooms as a hotel, and all of the rooms feature a unique traditional (or eclectic in style) decorations such as: zellige (a geometric mosaic decorations on the floor and on the walls), woodcarvings, and marble stuccowork. Every room of the riad is a unique artistic and handicraft expression, and they have no outer windows, but are all turned toward the main courtyard allowing for a
total privacy, silence, and fresh air that could never be attained from the street windows. The wealth of the owners reveals itself only when one enters this private heaven. The riads are real palaces, an exceptional delight to visit, and even more so, to stay in! We believe a loving Moroccan tour needs to allow our guests to experience riadʼs luxury, charm, and hospitality.
A LUXURY DESERT CAMP IN SAHARA
Topics we cover on this tour
We are eclectic in our ways, and love to cross the lines between different disciplines
and combine the most interesting of each of them. Some of the topics we cover in depth,
and some we take in as we go along.
MOROCCAN TRADITIONAL ARTS
Zellige mosaic, cedar wood carving, marble stuccowork, calligraphy, metal (Alpaca) or wooden door with brass door knobs, ceramics, leather, and more
ART
architcture and handcrafts,
painting (in different locations
there are many painters)
CALLIGRAPHY
precious moroccan calligraphy is a feast for the eyes, and we try our hands at this ancient skill
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
a visit to the Medersa (a Coranic school), Yves Saint Laurent museum in Marrakesh
DESIGN AND FASHION
Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakesh and the designers of Morocco

TRADITIONAL COSTUMES
a Djellaba, a Kaftan, and a Gandora and everything in between (Why we wear costumes and how do we add this experience to our tour? BLOG/WEARING A COSTUME
ARCHITECTURE
mosques, minarets, and islamic schools (called Medersa), Marabouts (tombs of local saints), medieval cities (Medinas), Ville Nouvelle- New Towns (French colonial architecture), Art Deco and Art Nouveau builidings and styles (built by the French)
CONSERVATION
UNESCOʼs world heritage sites: Medina (Old town) of Fes; the Jma El Fna square and Medina of Marrakesh; the historic city of Meknes; ksar Ait Ben Haddou; the modern capital, and the historic city of Rabat
MOROCCAN MUSIC
richness of traditional
and modern Moroccan (and
Maghrebian) music
DANCE
Berber and Arab dances

THEATRE
awaiting for the new futuristic Grand Theatre de Rabat, commissioned from Zaha Hadid Architects, to be opened in Rabat (soon)
SOULFUL BUILDINGS
a moroccan “architectural Trinity”:
a Riad, a Kasbah, and a Ksar
TRADITIONS
the strong multiculturalism of muslim (Arab) traditions and Islam with ancient (and contemporary) berber traditions, with added European influences; islamic traditions and rituals
MOROCCAN HISTORY- HISTORICAL PERIODS
• Before the arrival of Islam: indigenous people, the Berbers and the Jews
• The arrival of Islam, to be followed by six Moroccan dynasties (the Sultans of Morocco), the conquering of Andalusia in Spain
EXPLANATORY GEOGRAPHY
an expalanation on why the surroundings, country, city, environment is as it is; looking at the spaces and understanding how they function, learning about the social and cultural forces that shape the life of Moroccans and Morocco;
TASTES
apart from the excellent cuisine and rare Moroccan wines (as a muslim country they produce very few of them), we also find a lot of pleasure in exploring different teas, and adding cookies, or other lovely deserts
TOPICS YOU WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT
sports, popular politics,* or popular culture. Academism as only dry lectures and the extensive accumulation of information. Instead,
we prefer useful knowledge, interesting insights, and lovingly brought presentations.

*We include politics as much as needed to understand the environment and the visited culture and no more.

TIPS BEFORE TRAVEL

Best times to visit

  • second half of September through May.
  • We avoid the months of:
  • January and February (when itʼs cold in the desert and it rains more (and snows in the mountains)
  • The summer months (from May till the end of August) when it is very hot
  • We also avoid traveling in Morocco during Ramadan, but we like to start our tour during the very last days of Ramadan. Why? Please, read here. Ramadan times change yearly in 2020 from the 24th of April till the 23rd of May, and in 2021 from April 13th to May 2nd. On our tour we travel through different parts of the country, and the climate changes intensely- from the Mediterranean, to Mountainous and then the Desert . . . that means in some parts of the county it can be warm, and in others very cold, at the same time.

CLIMATE and TEMPERATURES

  • AVERAGE TEMPERATURES:
  • September: Casablanca= the North 19-26°C(66-79°F) Marrakesh= the South 18-32°C (64-90°F)
  • December: in the North 10-18°C (50-64°F); in the South 7-19°C (45-66°F)
  • March and April: in the North 12-20°C (54-68°F); in the South 9-22°C(48-72°F)
  • May: in the North 15-22°C (59-72°F); in the South 14-27°C (57- 81°F)

 

  • THE SEA and SWIMMING:
  • The Atlantic Ocean in the North of Morocco is quite cold (average yearly temperature is c. 18°C/64°F) and is, in most parts not safe to swim in.
  • RAIN (SNOWFALL IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS) more in January and February

SAFETY

Morocco is a moderately safe country – tourist crime rates are low and mostly consist of petty thievery of non-attended items, so we advise our guests to always use common sense (to keep their valuables in the safety box in the room, avoid exposing expensive cameras, and in city centres always take care of personal belongings). Every now and then, the risk of terrorism grows, so we avoid crowded places as much as we can, and always keep an eye on happenings around us. We also have a very reliable local partner who follows the latest safety announcements and news instructions.

HEALTH

  • there are no special health hazards in traveling to Morocco. Please, read more.
  • POTABLE WATER: it is a good idea to only drink bottled water in countries with different hygiene standards than at home.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

Moroccan Arabic; other languagues: Berber, French, Spanish (in some parts)

money

CURRENCY: Dh or Mad/Moroccan

CREDIT CARDS: accepted in tourist places, but Morocco is a country of cash

ATMs in the cities

PRICES: 0.5l water 10 Dh (roughly 1 eur), fresh orange juice or other fruit juices from 15 to 20 Dh, lunch in a good restaurant in the cities 250 Dh (and more), tea or coffee in a cafe from 20 Dh . . . .

TIPPING

The muslim culture is a culture of cooperation and care for others and for society. Every Moroccan usually takes care of their extended family, elderly parents and their underaged siblings. In a country that has a low average salary and big poverty, the people appreciate tips very much and accept them gratefully.

PRESENTS TO THE PEOPLE

In some areas (south of the Atlas mountains) there is a shortage on daily necessities and people are happy to receive basic food, clothes (old T-shirts), small (mini) toys for children, candles, baseball hats (for boys and men) . . . We like the idea of presenting the (more educated) people in the cities with postcards of the visitorʼs home country (or home town). Not to bring: alcohol, or any kind of pork.

INTERNET

wifi is available at all riads and hotels, 3G in the phones (roaming can be quite expensive, but itʼs possible to buy a Moroccan SIM card and use a Moroccan connection).

PHOTOGRAPHY

Moroccans do not like to be photographed! If they do pose, they will expect some reward for it (a small tip of 5 Dh/ 0.5 eur).

VISTING THE MOSQUES FOR NON-MUSLIMS

for non-muslims the Moroccan mosques are off-limits. There are a few, though that open their door for such visitors. We visit one of them in Casablanca- Hassan II Mosque.

DRESS CODE

Guests should wear clothes they feel comfortable in and beautiful wearing. According to the Moroccan climate (a strong sun) and a few long transfer days (for more information on the program, please send as an inquiry and we will send you our brochure of the tour), comfort on the move, and protection from the sun come together with the elegance. Morocco is a muslim country, and we believe respect toward the visited culture brings respect toward the visitor, so we suggest modest clothes that cover the knees and shoulders (or even better – a full length dress for the ladies, especially in the rural areas) and with no cleavage for the ladies. The best fit for travel in Morocco are tunics with loose fitting pants and shirts with mid/long sleeves and long shorts for gentlemen. A nice airy and beautiful scarf is, in a sunny country, always a good protection from the sun and a nice fashion accessory . . . and can also be altered with a sun hat.

  • OUR SUGGESTIONS on what is best to wear:
  • During the FIRST HALF OF THE TOUR (until we leave the city of Fes): guests can wear casual dress
  • In the DESERT: the best dress is with long sleeves and covering the knees (tunics and long trousers for the ladies, and light shirts and long trousers for gentlemen) and a desert scarf (we usually buy one on the way)
  • FASHIONABLE CITY (Marrakesh): a bigger freedom of dress - Casual, Country Club Casual or dressy casual with a beautiful long maxi-dress and a hat for the ladies, and casual for the gentlemen
  • Dinners: Elegant and Smart casual, lounge dress code, semi-formal dress code (dresses covering the knees and shoulders) for the ladies and semi-formal or cocktail attire or black tie creative attire for gentlemen.
  • LOCAL CUSTOMES AND DRESS:
  • For the ladies: there is no ladies dress code in Morocco, so Moroccan women wear very different styles. Somethimes they wear jeans and a tunic, or trousers and a Djellaba dress… some of them cover their heads, though the majority do not.
  • For gentlemen: Moroccan men wear long trousers (in all seasons), a shirt or a Djellaba (a long outer robe with a baggy pointed hood), and soft leather slippers (called Babouch).
  • Read more about what the Moroccans wear daily and when they dress up on our Blog.

DOOR TO DOOR LUGGAGE SERVICE

 our guest's luggage is always taken care of, so they do not need to worry about carrying heavy suitcases in and out of their rooms, and onto the coach.

CHALLENGES

Morocco seems like a modern (Europeian) country at first, but the people are traditional and appreciate modesty in dress and behavior. 2. The Kingʼs royal visits (and whereabouts) and the Moroccan weather- two components of Allahʼs (Godʼs) will that influence everybodyʼs life and travel in and around Morocco. The King loves to move about and when he does, the streets, squares or roads might be closed. The weather is unpredictable and its changes are sometimes a matter of minutes.

CUBAN CUISINE

DISHES: couscous topped with meat or vegetables, tajine, bastilla, lamb with prunes, kefta meatball tajine, harira soup. MEAT: beef, chicken, mutton, lamb, sheep, goat, snails, pigeons (in a traditional Bastilla pie) and seafood (mostly at the seaside and in Marrakesh). Moroccans do not eat pork due to their religious restrictions. SPICES: Morocco is a land of spices. They use a lot of home grown saffron, mint, cinnamon, turmeric, (oriental) cumin, ginger, paprika, coriander, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, cloves, fennel, anise, garlic, and others. The traditional mixture of 35 spices is called Ras-el-Hanout (the expression means “head of the shop,” as it is the best they sell in a shop). HERBS: mint, parsley, oregano, coriander, marjoram, sage, and verbena. FRUIT: oranges, tangerines, strawberries, fresh and preserved olives, lemons. Dried fruits: sultanas, raisins, apricots, dates (from the south of the country). VEGETABLES: aubergine, tomato, onion, green peppers, spinach, potato and sweet potatoes, chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, turnip, fava beans, squash, zucchini, brocoli, and more. DRINKS: this is a land of green tea with fresh mint leaves and a lot of sugar. To learn how to properly pour the tea into a small, painted glass, read in our Blog. Moroccans also drink coffee (with milk, or black), and they also prepare very tasty smoothies (avocado, bananes, strawberries, and others) and fresh orange juice. Moroccans do not drink alcohol due to their religious restrictions, but in all the hotels, they sell imported (or a few local) wines, beer, and even whiskeys, gin, etc. OILS: olive oil and precious argane oil. OTHER: Amlou is a healthy spread or a dip made of argane oil, mixed with grinded roasted almonds and argane flower honey. Moroccans believe that Amlou is also an aphrodisiac . . . .

A TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN BREAKFAST

  • B'sarra bean soup
  • orange juice, tea or coffee,
  • Moroccan rounded bread or semolina pan-fried flatbread called Harcha or Beghrir, tender bubbly Moroccan pancakes made of semolina (and yeast) or Msemen, a square crepe-like type of bread
  • butter, marmalade or honey, or argane oil, olive oil or Amlou spread,
  • fresh fruit,
  • a croissant or two

BREAKFAST IN THE HOTELS: mostly continental French style breakfast (tea/coffee, croisant, bread, butter and jam, cheese or omelette), in the hotels they have a vast variety of different breakfasts… 

SOUVENIRS TO BRING HOME

In Morocco there are so many souvenirs to buy, so it is a good idea to have a very relaxed kilogram allowance for the plane, or to be ok with paying the extra baggage at check in . . . Bigger items can be shipped abroad.

Argan oil, babouche leather slippers, and leather items, Djellaba dress, berber baskets or market bags, bread baskets, hammered metalworks, musical instruments, and gnawa music instruments, Ras-el-Hanout spices and other spices (saffron), dried dates, tea, artisanal soaps, or Rassoul and a hammam glove- Kiss, lanterns, berber rugs and carpets, together with matching pillow covers, woven goods, pottery and Zellige (tilework), wooden items, coloured tea cups and metal tea pots, tea sets, fossils (made into a bathroom sink) . . . and a Fes hat.

CONTACT FORM.
or call us via Skype or IMO
If you find our philosophy resonates within, we invite you to contact us.
We will be happy to hear from you.

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